Tag Archives: Huddersfield Town

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

TOWN’S TRANSER MARKET

Reflection of Huddersfield’s activity, or inactivity, in the transfer market proves them not to be big spenders of any sort, a pretence their supporters have come to terms with therefore dampening any real January excitement.

However manager Danny Cowley has shown no hesitation in expressing the necessity to bring in new bodies during the transfer period, and most recently promised the club were working hard to bring players in during a post match interview following their FA cup exit courtesy of two Southampton goals made in their academy.

In terms of the West Yorkshire team’s own academy, the past week has seen many development players recalled. With the likes of attacking minded player Rekeil Pike returning to his parent club from Rochdale, it is possible additions to Cowley’s youthful squad are coming from recalls. Since their arrival from Lincoln City, the Cowley brothers have not been shy of taking risks with the youth players, with the risk best executed late on against Charlton; academy graduate Matty Daly scored a late winner to secure all three points for the Terriers in the capital.

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First team appearance on the cards for Pike? The striker is the latest youngster to be recalled back to Huddersfield.

Largely, Huddersfield fans will argue the Aaron-Mooy-shaped void in midfield is the priority for debut season owner Phil Hodgkinson to get sorted. Not to ignore the effectiveness of current central players Jonathon Hogg – nicknamed ‘ the general’ for his control, maturity and clear passion for the team- and youngster Lewis O’Brien who has flourished in an attacking midfield position under the Cowley’s, but the evident Premier League quality of the Australian is not yet to be replicated. Consistently giving class performances in the countries top league, Town fans are well aware his rising price tag could be windfall for a quality signing to commit to the northern club.

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Aaron Mooy’s departure to the Premier League left a difficult hole to fill for the struggling Championship side.

Owner Phil Hodgkinson’s takeover was made a subtle affair as former owner, and Town fan Dean Hoyle gave protection and appealed to the fans to be patient with the clubs handling. Facing relegation in 2019, after an emphatic past two years, the humbled status of the club led to almost a state of acceptance that Huddersfield had had its time and was almost a return to reality. It was made well aware the bank was not in danger of overflowing to put it one way. Knowledge of this becomes contributor to Huddersfield’s limited hopes of a busy transfer market but Cowley insists he is adamant for new faces at the John Smiths.

Similar to recent seasons, rumours are surrounding young Premier League loanees. With Rhian Brewster been linked with a loan move to the championship after recently recovering from an ankle injury, he would offer a different striking option. Close links to the Merseyside club from the David Wagner years, who was close friend Jurgen Klopp, has seen Liverpool-Huddersfield connections before as with Dominik Solanke who was linked with the club last season. Solanke, who went to play for Premier League side Bournemouth, is an example of maybe the lack of attraction Huddersfield hold and maybe why chasing Premier League club players is not the most realistic of options.

To look at lower league possibilities, Marcus Maddison of Peterborough would be a great addition for the Terriers, with 10 goals and nearly as many assists to his name. The attacking winger could be a goal scoring source for Huddersfield who struggle more often than not to take their chances. A natural winger could be vital for the team, who are rumoured to release two wingers in Adama Diakhby and Isaac Ebenza who have not been favourited by the new manager. The outlet of a new winger could see Karlan Grant return to be a more central striker which is the position he played so well in the early days at Town.

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Maddison at Peterborough shapes the ideal addition for Terriers’side.

In speaking to Huddersfield supporters, due to the lack of current concrete rumours, a few lower league names also cropped up, one being Jerome Opuku of Fulham. Currently out on loan on Accrington Stanley, he would create competition for a centre back role and is also adaptable to play at left back. His addition would raise competition for Schindler and Stankovic who have played well but Opuku could offer pace in the centre half’s position.

It seem likely that Huddersfield’s supporters can expect the arrival of loanees from lower league clubs to improve the depth and quality for some areas of the squad. As much as they would enjoy the return of past strikers Jordan Rhodes and Nahki Wells who have begun to hit the back of the net in the Championship again, as they once did so well at Town. However there is hope to be had with Danny Cowley’s obvious strive for achievement, January may just have to be a patient one for the Huddersfield fans.

TOWN TAKE ALL THREE POINTS FROM ROVERS

A fixture which has seen more draws in the last few years than an other score-line, fans on both sides would have been hopeful for more than just a point a piece.

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A second goal of the Christmas period for Huddersfield’s front man

Following this weeks news of star striker Bradley Dack being ruled out for the season due to injury, a heavy weight laid upon a Blackburn side who were looking to continue their unbeaten run dating back to 9th November. For Huddersfield, Danny Cowley made two changes to the Boxing Day starting line up which included the return of left back Jaden Brown who came in to replace Flo Hadergjonajat.

As expected, the beginning stages saw both teams very open in defence with both sides having chances in the primary stages. Danny Graham was the first to capitalise one of these chances for the visitors as he headed past Grabara, leaving the Huddersfield players to simply watch as he nodded down to the near post. Up at the other end shortly after referee Andy Woolmer waved away penalty claims as Karlan Grant was brought to ground in the penalty area. Woolmer was keeping the game flowing choosing not to be disciplinary with cards where other officials might have been during the first half.

Shortly before half time a whipped in free kick from Juninho Bacuna reached six yard box to be met by Town’s centre half Jon Gorenc Stankovic who recorded his home turf debut goal with a bullet header to make it 1-1. Stankovic arguably Huddersfield’s best player of the day was up against Blackburn’s Sam Gallagher who caused problems for the home side on multiple occasions, a great contest to watch throughout the 90 minutes.

It was Huddersfield who fought back in the second half to take the lead through a skilled strike from Steve Mounie who, from middle distance, struck the ball into the top right hand corner of the Blackburn net in the latter quarter of the game. A good strike which turned out to be the winner for the Terriers, however this wasn’t before Huddersfield’s keeper Grabara was needed to pull off a close range save to deny Rovers an equaliser.

Nine minutes added on for injury time led to a majority nervous atmosphere at the John Smiths but the home side managed to cling on to their one goal advantage. A good game of football from both sides with some real glimpses of talent in youth players from John Buckley for Rovers who showed intent to get the ball forward and supply his strikers. Similarly, Lewis O’Brien who balanced maturity and desire to attack well, stepping up to replace the injured Jonathon Hogg.

Huddersfield town vs Nottingham forest match review

Two goals from two unlikely goal scorers secure 3 points for Danny Cowley’s men against an out of form Nottingham Forest.

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Danny Cowley will aim to secure Championship security during the Christmas period

The opening of the game indicated notion of the close contested game the match turned out to be, with both sides having goal scoring chances. Long range shots from Sammy Ameobi looked to test keeper Grabara who was playing on the back of a pivotal mistake from last weekend which had seen the Terriers concede to Wigan. However, Grabara was to make no mistake this week as he exampled some brilliant saves in both the first and second halves.

Despite Forest chances, it was Town who made the break through from a corner which was fanatically finished by captain Christopher Schindler. The goal had followed a period of Town pressure in the final third, with good chances for in form Karlan Grant and Juhinio Bacuna who is looking to increase his goal tally for the season.

The game proceeded to be tense, with what some may say ‘tasty’ tackles been shown. The referee was not shy in showing yellow cards as the game started to become a battle of physicality. This element of the game transferred to the side-lines and at half time it was the back room staff who were asserting their physicality. Altercations with coaching staff and both managers in Cowley and Lamouchi, led them both to comment on the lack of respect of the other side in their post match interviews.

However, there was only one battle which was important and that was the football. The second half saw Huddersfield score a second goal from striker Steve Mounie, a rare goal scorer of late. The Belgian forward headed the ball over the Forest line to double the Terrier’s lead. A two goal lead which was required as Forest found a goal with quarter of an hour to go through a leaping header from Joe Wirall.

In these last 15 minutes the game was wide open, Nottingham looked most threatening down the right hand side with winger Joe Lolley, former Huddersfield player, looking very dangerous when cutting in. A magnificent save was required from Grabara to keep the youngster off the score sheet. Lolley’s style of play was replicated by Grant at the opposite end of the pitch, as he cut in down the left hand side to try finish as he has done so well recently, with a curling top right shot which he marginally missed out on.

Minor fouls slowed the game down in its dying embers as the tension of the game decreased with the officials calling for free kicks, another factor possibly to cause the reaction of the Managers’ comments upon respect for the football.

Inevitably tactics of the game will be debated, but it was Huddersfield who enter the Christmas period with three points already in the bag.

Match preview: HUDDERSFIELD TOWN VS LEEDS UNITED

On the back of two polar opposite results at the weekend, will form go out the window in the West Yorkshire derby?

With Leeds United undoubtedly being the most successful West Yorkshire team so far this season it would be expected they would take all three points from The John Smiths stadium in the early kick off on Saturday. However, the last two contests between the two teams, all be it two seasons ago, saw bragging rights sway in Huddersfield’s direction with a 1-0 win at Elland Road and a 2-1 score line on home turf.

Leeds will be heading into the game on the back of an emphatic 4-0 win against Middlesbrough which continued an unbeaten run of eight games. Arguably Leeds’ strongest team in recent years, accompanied with a highly praised manager in Marcelo Bielsa has seen them excel through the season and sit second in the table closely behind West Bromich Albion.

However, a short trip down the M62 tells a much different story. Huddersfield have not had the most comfortable of returns to the Championship, recording just four wins since August but had seemed to find some form under new boss Danny Cowley in recent weeks. The Terriers were put to shame with a 5-2 defeat at Ashton Gate on Saturday, a place Huddersfield have never enjoyed visiting, which may dampen wishes of 3 points against their closest rivals on the 7th.

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Last time out; Michael Hefele secures a Terrier’s victory with last minute winner in an ugly derby game.

Due to the important stake of bragging rights surrounding the game, both sets of supporters will be reliant on their star players turning up. For the Lily Whites, Patrick Bamford will be who they are looking out for to make an impact, just as he has done in recent weeks with 7 goals to his name this season. With a misshapen Huddersfield defence of late, with both first choice full backs in Jaden Brown and Danny Simpson out with injury, it could be an area for Leeds to take advantage. Equally, Huddersfield with be hopeful prolific striker Karlan Grant maintains his impressive goal scoring record for the season, Grant is argued for be Town’s most important player this season and someone they do not want to let go of.

If anything is to go off the last outing against the two sides, the game is set to be a physical, highly fought and possibly ugly. However a game that will surely be enjoyed by both sides and entertaining for the neutral.